The Southern
Jaroslaw Rogalski
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The Tennengebirge is one of the massifs in the Salzburger Alps. It is the biggest karst plateau in this part of the Alps, high up to 2100 - 2300 m. It is a gigantic white desert of limestone rubble, grooved by karst hollows. In the Tennengebirge there are a few deep and big cave systems already explored as for exemple: Eisäesenwelt, Schwer-Höhlen-system, Cosanostraloch-BergerPlatteneck Höhle. However, when we look at the location of these caves, we can see that the majority of them are at the rim of this plateau. The middle part of this big, karst sponge is still waiting for recognition. The hydrologic conditions show that the best way to get there is from the southern part of the massif.
The task of this paper is to present the activities of a Polish group of cavers of "FAKS" in the southern rim of the Tennengebirge, in the region of the peaks Kemetstein and Wermutschneid. The reason why we decided to explore there is in short presented above.

Krzysztof Makowski organized two expeditions in 1985 and 1988; it was the first period of this exploration. They penetrated the regions of Kemetstein and the blind valley Tiefenkar. At once it was obvious that the caves found below the rim of the plateau were those with the biggest chance of getting down the massif. Above this border, the ubiquitous rubble choked every slit. There were found a few entrances in the southern flank of the Tennengebirge. Three caves were chosen for systematic exploration: Ariadnahöhle, the Grosse Kemetsteinhöhle (already known) and the Schnee Maria Höhle.
The entrance to Ariadnahöhle is situated in the western flank of the Tiefenkar valley, at 2030 m. The initial parts are like in any alpine cave - a narrow meander with many pitches. 200 m below something completely new begins. The steep series drops into vast passages which develop horizontaly. This level of huge halls and passages (between 1600 and 1900 m), so characteristic for the Salzburger Alps, is known in slang of Polish speleologists as "gangi". We found it also in this cave, and this parts were called this name - "Gangi"! They are decorated by wonderful dripstones, basins of cave pearls and little lakes surrounded by fabulous calcareous flowstones. In the first period of exploration we concentrated on finding the way down. So we left the fabulous passages "Gangi" and continued down just along the big underground stream, by passing through pitches and meanders. More or less 700 m below the surface, 

below the huge pitch "P. 80" the series divided into two mud passages. The first one led to the depth 724 m and the way was stopped by mud siphons. The second one dropped into the passages made by the river and also stopped at the depth - 738 m. The exploration was finished in front of the next narrow cascade. Grosse Kemetsteinhöhle is well known to tourists - it is a big tunnel with two entrances piercing the rock of Kemetstein. Here, in one of the side passages we managed to get down through the ice into the lower parts. The cave appeared to have a lot of passages on different levels. The explored series are 3 km long and are up to 150 m deep. Their character is identical as the "Gangi" in the Ariadnahöhle. Unfortunately, the exploration could not continue because of silt and heaps of rubble, which choked passages to the ceiling. So we gave up the exploration in this cave. Schnee Maria Höhle is the highest situated cave (2147 m), it lies practicaly just at the rim of the plateau. At the very entrance we found very narrow and fragile parts which were very difficult to go by. In 1985 we managed to pass by the first bottom at the - 50 m. During the next exploration it was a rule - we got to the choked bottom, which we had to pass by narrow and brittle corridors above. In this way we got to - 500 m, where the cave changed into very narrow meander. At the end of it there is a new pitch, but it had to wait till the next exploration. Definitely we ended our activity at - 600 m, with plans for the future. During the expedition in 1988 it was made a film - "Below the Alps" (Pod podszewke Alp) - for the Polish Television.
Ariadnahöhle, Gangi, photo A. Dajek Ariadnahöhle, "Gangi", photo A. DajekKemetstein, view from the north, Dajek Kemetstein, view from the north, photo A. Dajek
We had to wait 6 years for the next expedition. During this time a lot of speleologists passed through "FAKS". That is why in 1994 we arrived in the Kemetstain region as a compeletely new group led be me. From this time on, the Polish speleologists have come here every year. These expeditions decided that the most important thing is to resolve the problems left by Krzysztof Makowski. In Ariadnahöhle we tried to explore down. We removed the heaps of rubble above the last cascade, we widened a slit and went 15 m down. Here the cave ended definetily with an inaccessible fissure - at the depth of - 753 m. So we decided to explore the cave in the "Gangi". We discoverd new parts of this series, streaching towards Grosse Kemetsteinhdhle. We concentrated on finding the link between these two caves and on finding the continuation of "Gangi".
Section, click for bigger one.
Because of the exploration of "Gangi" I should mention the discoveries in Uber Wengerau Höhle. It is quite small, one kilometre long cave which axis is a big, old passage on the level of 1900 m. In the very close vicinity of Ariadnahöhle there are also two caves which have passages very similar to "Gangi": The Grosse Kemetsteinhöhle and the Über Wengerau Höhle. In the first one they are situated from 1930 m to 1790 m, in the second one they were found on the level of 1900 m. So without much risk we can suppose the genetic link of formation of these caves. These discovered parts belong to the same cave system, on the same level of siphons. They all have a well defined multi-level configuration developed during slight lowering of the erosional base.
At least partial discovery of this system is still a very interesting challenge in the Southern Tennengebirge. The most important effect of the exploration in this region has been achieved in Schnee Maria Höhle. At the depth of - 700 m the cave leads to horizontal, tube-like passages, which stretch in the northwards. The system of these tubes ends 200 m below the rim of the plateau in the north. Unfortunately, the series at this depth was choked by mud. Now, we explored in slanting but dry "Meander of Heavy Boots" at the depth of - 800 m. Up till now it continues down. The exploration of water series of this cave, like in the Ariadnahöhle, have not given interesting results. The first stream we left in the narrow fissure at the depth503 m, the second one - at - 783,5 m, the third one - at - 817 m. Up till now, the FAKS expeditions explored more than 12 km new passages in Southern Tennengebirge. Two caves - Ariadnahöhle i Schnee Maria Höhle are more than 4 km long and 700 m deep. This year we are preparing a new expedition which, we hope, will bring a lot of new spectacular discoveries in this region.
Translated by Marta Salamon
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The Southern

Marcin Krajewski
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A 12-man team from AKG Krakow led by Marcin Krajewski continued exploration in the Tennengebirge. Schnee Maria Höhle and Ariadnahöhle were the main goals of the expedition. In the former cave the exploration was continued in a passage called Meander Ciezkich Butow (Meander of Heavy Boots). The passage was filled with mud, which made exploration more difficult. The passage ends at the head of two parallel vertical pitches. The right pith leads to -935 m, where a meander blocked with boulders is located. The left pitch ends in a narrow squeeze; the passage continues behind it. The discovery of small passages in the chamber called Sala Dezertera was the main effect of exploration in Ariadnahöhle. The expedition also carried out surface exploration. A cave situated in the slopes of Wermutschneit was discovered. The exploration stopped at the depth of -200 m, at the head of a big pitch,
which is about I 00 m deep. The team mapped all discovered caves, and, besides, those series, that had not been surveyed during previous expedition.